Who is the Narrator of Our Lives?: William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying

5 Dec

Narration is a big thing not only in books, but also in life. Our actions are ways to which we narrate and navigate our way through our story. But what about inaction and silence? Aren’t those a form of narration as well?

Narration is not only used as a tool within the novel to develop the plot, as well as each separate narrator, but it also exposes the true narrator through the concealment that words put on language. Addie Bundren’s presence in As I Lay Dying, or lack thereof, seems to distract the reader from discovering her side of the story. The irony of the words in the title is though it is in first person narrative, we almost never hear from her point of view. But let me not give out too many spoilers.

The irony of this novel being about a woman who is “dying” but told by those around her who are “alive” is the exact distinction that calls to question the very narration that we are given within the title. As I Lay Dying – first person narrative – seems to reveal a secret hidden within the narrative. This secret would appear to be a story from the perspective of someone who is dying – as per the title – but, in fact, we are almost never introduced to this true first person narrator.

This intrigued me.

One thing to note is that I – the reader – often fall in love with the ironic. Recent blogs I have written were about novels – such as Pamuk’s My Name is Red – allude to this sense of irony within and surrounding that novel, the irony of title’s foreshadowing, and multiple narrators with their own story that still hold the same meaning – rather than different “sides to the story.” It’s ironic, and it’s beautiful to me.

I love this book because it sheds light not only on the fact that the title is strictly about what’s going on as she lays dying, but it also follows this remarkable truth of how what’s going on around us narrates just as much as we do in our own story. As she lays dying is calling to the beauty that even though the title is clearly in first person – which should mean that it’s about her perspective – it’s not. Her perspective is that of what’s around her. It’s what’s happening as she lays dying that’s important, that’s narrating her story.

And isn’t that how it seems – life?

Aren’t we all just lying there as the world just continues to go round, as our story continues on without us, but in reality with us still there?

You can borrow As I Lay Dying in print, as an ebook from eBCCLS or eLibraryNJ, a digital audiobook, and view a movie adaptation on DVD.

Written By:
Sherissa Hernandez
Adult Programming Assistant

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: